We cannot afford to decriminalise drug – Gassama

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By Tabora Bojang

The Director General of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency of the Gambia Bakary Gassama has said that the Gambia cannot afford to decriminalise the use of any illicit drugs, arguing that such will have a direct detrimental effect on the country’s youthful population.

“As far as The Gambia is concerned we will never accept decriminalising the use of illicit drugs because it will have a lot of implications on our youth who are the cream of our society. Most of the patients at the Tanka- Tanka psychiatric hospital are victims of drug psychosis effects,” Gassama told GRTS Check Point.
He said the main concern of the world is to ensure how the use of illicit drugs can be minimised by enlightening people especially the young to know the effects of the drugs in terms of health, economic and social implications.

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NDLEA under the new dispensation, he added, is aiming to shift away from supply suppression through arrests and prosecutions to give more attention to demand reduction of drugs with more emphasis on sensitisation, rehabilitation and treatment.

“We have already completed the overhaul of the Drug Control Act and we are going to put in new provisions that will empower the agency to relate our job more on demand reduction that is on sensitisation, on rehabilitation and treatment rather than on prosecution.”
He said: ”This is paying dividend because the trend of drug abuse by the youths is reducing and that emanates as a result of our sensitisations and the number of school going children that abuse drugs has reduced compared to before.”

DG Gassama contended that drug abuse is both a criminal and public health issue saying “those who are into the business and trafficking are into criminal activity and those who consume it have health effects as a result of the consumption.”

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